Physiological Aspects Of Cordillera Weaving In The Philippines

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Philippine Journal of Science150 (5): 1061-1067, October 2021ISSN 0031 - 7683Date Received: 15 Feb 2021Physiological Aspects of Cordillera Weaving in the PhilippinesJennifer G. Inovero1*, Analyn Salvador-Amores2, and Jeffrey C. Pagaduan31HumanKinetics ProgramDepartment of Anthropology, Sociology, and PsychologyUniversity of the Philippines Baguio, Benguet 2600 Philippines3College of Health and Medicine, School of Health and SciencesUniversity of Tasmania, Australia2This novel study examined the physiological aspects of weaving among 20 female weavers fromthe Cordillera Region of Northern Luzon, Philippines. Demographic profile and anthropometricmeasures were gathered, heart rate (HR) and posture were continuously monitored whilethe weavers performed a 30-min weaving task. Data were analyzed using mean standarddeviation and Pearson’s correlation coefficient to identify any relationship. Analysis wasconducted using a commercial statistical package (SPSS version 25, IBM, Chicago, IL) withalpha set at 0.05 level. Data revealed that the weavers’ blood pressure is at the prehypertensionstage, body fat percentage relative to age is average, BMI value is classified as overweight, andWHR value showed that they are at risk from metabolic disorders. Results also showed thatthe occupational demands of weaving presented low cardiovascular workload and increasedtask difficulty resulted to more forward lean among weavers. Additionally, there was a linearrelationship between HR and posture. These findings suggest the potential for increased riskfor musculoskeletal injuries with weaving.Keywords: Cordillera, physiology, posture, weavingINTRODUCTIONIn Northern Luzon, Philippines, weaving is a practicethat is deeply embedded in the culture of the peopleand community. Weaving is the process of interlacingthe “warp” (vertical threads) and the “weft” (horizontalthreads) on a backstrap loom and a foot loom. Traditionally,most of the woven fabrics in the Cordillera are producedthrough the backstrap loom which entails body tensionmovement because as the weaver leans back, tension isproduced to hold the warp in place. In the tedious weavingprocess, the women are likely to produce musculoskeletalproblems, which were also observed during fieldwork inthe Cordillera region.*Corresponding Author: have illustrated that somatic symptoms canbe traced to various conditions present in the workenvironment. Poor posture is a risk for musculoskeletalproblems of the neck, shoulders, and lower back. Incorrectposture strains the hips and knees; faulty posture and weakand inelastic muscles are the leading causes of chroniclow back problems. Dianat and Karimi (2016) noted ahigh prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints in theneck, lower back, and shoulders among Iranian handicraftworkers engaged in different hand sewing tasks. Similarly,Sarkar (2016) also identified back, neck, knee, foot, andjoint pain caused by the long working hours in variousharmful positions on traditional looms and instruments ofhandloom weaving in India. Researchers also identifiedthe link between posture and musculoskeletal disorders(MSDs) among workers in the production process, textile1061

Philippine Journal of ScienceVol. 150 No. 5, October 2021factory workers, and weavers (Djiono and Noya 2013;Abraha et al. 2018; Mallapiang et al. 2021). Severalother studies which used the rapid upper limb assessment(RULA) method to establish the relationship of workposture and MSDs in broom making, garment, andwelding workers have shown that the high prevalenceof MSDs is caused by poor working posture (Chaikliengand Homsombat 2011; Van et al. 2015; Promsri 2017;Surahma et al. 2020). Moreover, Isler et al. (2018) usedthe rapid entire body assessment (REBA), and bothRULA and REBA by Upasana and Deepa Vinay (2017)to analyze working posture and MSDs among workers inthe clothing sector and tailors respectively. Upasana andDeepa Vinay (2017) found out that the majority reporteda high rate of musculoskeletal discomfort associated withtheir workstation, tasks, and working postures.In the Philippines, Miralao and Aguilar (1985) pointedout that the poor working conditions of the weavers inBaguio City and Benguet were directly linked to the lowproductivity in weaving and, hence, attributed to the lowincome of the local weavers. Consequently, these havecaused the high prevalence of poor physical and healthconditions of the weavers such as upper respiratoryillnesses, back pain, poor posture, and eye problems,among others.Up to date, there is no recent study that investigatedthe physiological indices of weaving in the Philippines.Such an undertaking may provide a better understandingof the working conditions that the weavers face. Thus,the purpose of this study is to identify the physiologicalaspects of weaving, particularly in this study, the weavers’HR and posture during the weaving task to promote betterworking conditions, specifically for the weavers in theCordillera region.Figure 1. Backstrap (a) and foot (b) loom techniques.1062Inovero et al.: Physiological Aspects ofCordillera WeavingMATERIALS AND METHODSParticipantsTwenty (N 20) female weavers from the Cordilleraregion, North Luzon volunteered to participate in thestudy. There were four weavers each from Bontoc andBenguet province, five weavers each from Abra andKalinga, and two weavers were from Ifugao province. Themean age is 38.6 14.4 yr, where the youngest was 10 yrold from Kalinga province and the oldest is 69 yr old fromIfugao province who are both using the back strap weave.Eighteen weavers were using the foot loom technique.Written informed consent was collected before furtheractivity. The procedures of this study were approvedby the regional office of the National Commission onIndigenous Peoples and do not fall within the purviewof the Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices andCustomary Laws Research and Documentation Guidelinesof 2012 and, therefore, a free and prior informed consentprocess was not required. Further, the protocol of thisstudy is adherence to the Declaration of Helsinki forHuman Experimentation.ProceduresExperimentation was administered for a single sessionlocated at the workspace of each weaver, with timevarying according to convenience. The subjects weregiven instructions to avoid any food intake two hoursbefore experimentation. Demographic and anthropometricmeasures were gathered first before each weaverperformed an actual weaving task for 30 min. Duringthis task, HR and posture measurements were recorded.Since there was only one available piece of equipmentused to measure these parameters, the weavers were tested

Inovero et al.: Physiological Aspects ofCordillera WeavingPhilippine Journal of ScienceVol. 150 No. 5, October 2021consecutively. This procedure was patterned from a studymade by Borah and Kalita (2016), which evaluated thephysiological activity of the weavers during a 30-minweaving task using a chest strap HR monitor.MeasuresHeight and weight. With the subject in a standing position,barefoot, and leaning against the steel bar, weight andheight measurements were made. A steel stadiometer witha weighing scale (Detecto brand, USA platform type) wasused to measure the subjects’ weight expressed in kg andheight in cm.Blood pressure (BP). Using an Omron automatic bloodpressure monitor (HEM-7200), each weaver was askedto sit on a chair with arms rested on a level armrest ortable while measurement was being administered. Threeconsecutive measurements were recorded for eachweaver. Blood pressure was expressed in mm/Hg and thecorresponding HR was expressed in beats per minute (bpm).HR was also measured together with BP using the sameequipment. A 1-min interval between each measurementwas observed to reduce or possibly eliminate other factors,which can influence HR and BP recording. Possible feelingsof anxiety over the equipment used with the handcuff slowlytightening over the arms and being excited or nervous aboutthe task ahead were taken into consideration.Body mass index (BMI). The BMI is based on the conceptthat a person’s weight should be proportional to one’s heightand is a fairly accurate measure of the health risks of bodyweight for average people. It is calculated by dividing theweight in kg by the square of the height in m. Obtainedvalues were interpreted using standard norms for BMI.Waist circumference (WC). The WC assesses potentialrisk for disease based on intra-abdominal fat content.WC assumes that the total amount of body fat by itselfis not the best predictor of increased risk for disease butthe location of the fat (Hoeger and Hoeger 2015). WC isa better predictor than BMI of the risk of disease. Usingan anthropometric tape, WC was measured at the smallestwaist circumference.Waist-hip ratio (WHR). The WHR is a simple method usedto assess body fat distribution and identify individuals witha higher amount of abdominal fat. Health risk increasesas WHR increases and the standards for risk vary withage and sex. Using an anthropometric tape, measure thecircumference of the waist (above the iliac crest) dividedby the circumference of the hips.HR and posture. The HR and posture were measuredusing Zephyr Biopatch (Bioharness 3, Zephyr, USA),which was worn against the skin and attached to thecenter of the chest of each weaver. The weavers used theirusual, comfortable clothing, which did not affect theirmovement. Repetitive forward lean, sweat produced, andprobably the weavers’ undergarment caused the Biopatchto be displaced in several instances during the 30-minweaving task but was immediately put back in place sincethis will affect data recording. Clothing was not consideredas a potential contributing factor to HR and posture.HR was measured using two disposable electrocardiogram(ECG) electrodes, where different sets were used for eachparticipant. The Biopatch acts as a data logger that includesa two-lead ECG and tri-axis accelerometer to measure HRand posture respectively. Although the equipment includesa tri-axial accelerometer, the data of X and Z-axes werenot available and only one output, dependent on theY-axis was displayed for posture. Therefore, only Y-axis(degrees) was utilized to determine thoracic posture.Data are recorded continuously for 30 min, extractedoffline using commercial software (Omnisense Analysisver 4.1.6, Zephyr Technologies, USA), and exported toMicrosoft Excel for further analysis.Perceived workload and difficulty of design. A 10-pointrating (1 very, very easy; 10 maximal) of perceivedexertion (Table 1; Borg 1982) was utilized to determinethe subjective intensity of work performed for 30 min andthe difficulty of weaving design.The Borg scale was described and explained to eachweaver and they subjectively rated workload and difficultyof design accordingly.AnalysisData are displayed as mean standard deviation.Spearman’s rank-order correlation was carried out toidentify any relationship. Analysis was conducted usinga commercial statistical package (SPSS version 25, IBM,Chicago, IL) with alpha set at 0.05 level.Table 1. Borg's 10-point perceived exertion scale.RatingDescription0Rest1Very, very easy2Easy3Moderate4Somewhat hard5Hard67Very hard8910Maximal1063

Philippine Journal of ScienceVol. 150 No. 5, October 2021RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONTwenty (20) female weavers from five provinces in theCordillera region, North Luzon served as the participantsof this study. The mean age of the weavers is 38.6 yr, withthe youngest weaver at 10 yr old from Kalinga provinceand the oldest at 69 yr old from Ifugao province, both usedthe backstrap weave. The other eighteen weavers used thefoot loom technique.Inovero et al.: Physiological Aspects ofCordillera WeavingAccording to the American Heart Association, the averageRHR is between 60–100 bpm. During work or exercise,HR is expected to increase. The mean HR of the weaversbefore the weaving task was 78 bpm and increased to 90bpm during the 30-min weaving activity. This impliesthat weaving only entailed a low cardiovascular workloadamong weavers. In fact, their HR during the weaving taskstill falls within the range of average RHR.MeasuresHeight and weight. The mean weight and height are 57.7kg and 148.8 cm, respectively.Blood pressure. The mean value of the weavers’ BPwas recorded at 135/80 mmHg categorized at the prehypertension stage and 78 bpm average resting heart rate(RHR). Blood pressure measurements were made beforethe weaving task and, therefore, the weavers are still atrest. However, a high mean value for BP during rest is aserious concern on the health condition of the weavers.This implies chronic high blood pressure (hypertension),where a significantly high BP was recorded from theBontoc weavers.BMI. The weavers are classified as overweight with amean value of 26 kg/m2 and, therefore, are at increaseddisease risk.WC. The mean value for WC is 64.8 cm, categorizedas low risk. However, looking at BMI mean value inconjunction with WC, results showed that the weaversare at an increased risk from chronic diseases.WHR. The WHR as a measure of regional fat distributionis an indicator of health and risk of developing serioushealth conditions. The weavers’ mean value of 0.88implies that they are at a high risk of suffering fromchronic diseases.Considering that the weavers are relatively young, theirmean values for BP, BMI, WC, and WHR indicatepoor health conditions. The weavers are already at thepre-hypertension stage, categorized as overweight, andboth WC and WHR indicate that they are at high riskof suffering from chronic diseases. Chronic diseases areleading causes of disability and death in most countriesand include heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes,among others. The nature and demands of weaving tasksare contributing factors to this. These findings call forserious attention and, if not addressed immediately, theweaving tradition in the Cordillera may not be sustained.HR. The mean HR of the weavers during the 30-minweaving task was 89.9 2.15 bpm. Figure 2 displays theHR of the weavers during this task.1064Figure 2. HR of weavers during the 30-minute weaving task.A small increase in the HR of weavers from rest to activitymay be explained by their RPE on the task itself and design,rated as “moderate” to “somewhat hard,” respectively.Weaving requires the weaver to assume a sitting position.The metabolic equivalent of weaving is approximately1.5 MET, which is considered a low-intensity activity(Choi et al. 2019). However, weaving entails prolongedsitting, where most weavers spend an average of 6–7h/d, depending on orders placed, other household choresthey need to do, or other work they are also engaged in.Some Ifugao weavers also work as farmers. Moreover,limb movements during the weaving task are repetitive,require meticulous hand-eye coordination, and have thelower back remain unsupported. Prolonged sitting withthe back unsupported and repetitive limb movements mayresult in MSDs among weavers.Posture. Figure 3 depicts the posture of the weaversduring the 30-min weaving task, with a mean value of2.96 4.83 degrees.The posture graph recorded using Biopatch was utilizedto exhibit the postural trend in weaving, wherein the zerovalue demonstrates upright trunk position. Results showeddominant forward lean with weaving. This coincideswith the findings of Borah and Kalita (2016), whichdemonstrated increased lumbosacral range of motionwith the weaving task. The increased forward lean canbe attributed to the nature of the weaving task itself andthe design or pattern of the fabric where a more complexdesign may require more forward lean. Moreover, theforward lean may also be related to the weaving equipment(Borah and Kalita 2016). Traditional looms do not have

Inovero et al.: Physiological Aspects ofCordillera WeavingPhilippine Journal of ScienceVol. 150 No. 5, October 2021the weaving process. Spearman’s correlation revealed asignificant relationship between HR and posture, ρ 0.48,p 0.03. The increasing HR response with the forwardlean may be related to vestibulo-sympathetic responseswith weaving (Yates et al. 2015).Figure 3. Postural deviation of weavers during the 30-min weavingtask.a backrest to support the back during the task whilebackstrap weaving involves sitting on the floor with thestrap tied to the weaver’s waist. This work-related posturaldeviation may potentially contribute to an increased riskof MSDs (Bori 2016; Durlov et al. 2014; Miralao andAguilar 1985; Andersen et al. 2007; Dianat and Karimi2016; Picavet et al. 2016; Sarkar 2016).The weaving task involves prolonged sitting and repetitivelimb movements. Common postural problems identifiedby the weavers in this study include prolonged backpain, lower back pain, cramps (hands), pain/stress in theshoulders, buttocks, feet, eyes, darkening of the skin inthe buttock, formation of callus in the buttocks, knee pain,and pain in the arms due to the shifting of the shuttle. Inthe Ifugao foot loom (standing), pain in the feet, hips,shoulders, and arms was also pointed out.Perceived workload and design. The RPE for workload anddesign were 3.50 1.27 and 3.80 2.50, respectively. Theselow scores in RPE suggest familiarization with the taskand design executed by the weavers. It is important to notethat the design and pattern of each weave are different foreach province, and each weaver within a province alsoweaves a different design.Relationship of Variables in the StudyThe table below (Table 2) depicts the relationship betweenHR, posture, and RPE of both design and workload ofIn addition to physiological aspects of weaving, otherproblems pointed out by the weavers include low incomeand poor working conditions that they experience such asexposure to dust, fabric, and hot weather, particularly inthe province of Abra. Weavers from Abra stressed that theirincome is not commensurate to the hard work they put in,which is one of the reasons why the younger generation isdiscouraged from weaving. As the family’s main source ofincome, an exception to this is the weavers from Kalingaprovince, where all five children in a family are engaged inweaving to help augment the family’s expenses. At a youngage, they are already able to provide for their personal needsand their parents pay for their tuition fee only.The weavers’ income varies depending on demand from themarket, rolls of fabric produced, and their pace in weaving.For Bontoc weavers, for example, they can produce tworolls/mo, and each roll has 100 yards of fabric. Each yardcosts PHP 250, which has a total of PHP 25,000 less thecost of thread and labor. Labor costs PHP 55 for each yard.Bontoc weavers, however, do not have a direct market tosell their produce. This means that the weavers have towait for purchases to be made before they can get a handin their earnings. On average, they spend 10 h each dayweaving. Weavers from Abra, Kalinga, and Ifugao – on theother hand – earn approximately PHP 200–300/d. SomeKalinga weavers weave based on orders and thus are beingpaid once their products are delivered. Miralao and Aguilar(1985) cited poor working conditions of weavers in BaguioCity and Benguet as causes of low productivity attributedto the low income of the local weavers. Unfortunately, thesame conditions are still faced by our weavers at present.Due to the tedious process of weaving, health andpostural problems raised, the young generation seems tobe discouraged to continue the weaving tradition in someparts of the Cordillera. Such conditions also brought thedecrease of the weaving industry in the region, primarilybecause of old age and the poor health of the weavers.Table 2. Relationship of HR, posture, and RPE during weaving .08RPE-design0.210.30RPE icant at 0.05 level**Significant at 0.01 level1065

Inovero et al.: Physiological Aspects ofCordillera WeavingPhilippine Journal of ScienceVol. 150 No. 5, October 2021LimitationsLimitations of the current study are acknowledged. First,the generalizability of results should be avoided as theresults are only applicable to the participants of this study.Second, the weaving task only lasted 30 min. Physiologicalrecording for a longer duration may elucidate informationon the daily metabolic workload of weaving and providemore information on the cardiovascular and posturalindices among weavers. Lastly, the use of the RULA,REBA, and other non-invasive methods to assess posturalproblems and determine physiological mechanisms canhelp explain increased health risks among weavers.CONCLUSIONThe purpose of this novel study was to identify thephysiological profile of weaving tasks among femaleweavers in the Philippines. The findings showed thatthe occupational demands of weaving presented a lowcardiovascular workload and increased forward leanamong weavers. Anthropometric measures furtherindicated that the weavers are also at risk from sufferingfrom chronic diseases. Future studies should warrantthe reduction of work-related health risk among thispopulation to be able to sustain Cordillera weaving.ACKNOWLEDGMENTSThis research was supported by a grant from theInterdisciplinary Research Grant of the Cordillera StudiesCenter, University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio, andEmerging Interdisciplinary Research of the Office of theVice President for Academic Research (OVPAA C05-010)in cooperation with the Cordillera Textiles (CORDITEX)Research Project of UP Baguio. The kind assistance ofMr. Arnold Amores and Ms. Sushmita Zen Banaag duringfieldwork and data recording is also acknowledged.We thank the local weavers from the Cordillera forparticipating in our research.REFERENCESABRAHA TH, DEMOZ AT, MOGES HG et al. 2018.Predictors of back disorder among Almeda textilefactory workers, North Ethiopia. BMC ResNotes 11: 304.AGUILAR FV, MIRALAO VA. 1985. Igorot HandloomWeaving in the Philippines: A Case Study. Manila: RamonMagsaysay Award Foundation. Retrieved on 15 Nov2018 from SEN JH, HAAHR JP, FROST P. 2007. Riskfactors for more severe regional musculoskeletalsymptoms: a two-year prospective study of a generalworking population. Arthritis Rheum. 56(4): 1355–1364. doi: 10.1002/art.22513BORAH R, KALITA M. 2016. Ergonomic evaluationof weaving activity and ergonomic intervention fordrudgery reduction of weaver. Adv Res J Soc Sci 7(2):239–244. DOI: 10.15740/HAS/ARJSS/7.2/239-244BORG GA. 1982. Psychophysical bases of perceivedexertion. Med Sci Sports Exerc 14(5): 377–381.BORI G. 2016. Musculo-skeletal Problems of WomenWeavers in Handloom Industry of Lakhimpur District,Assam. International Journal of Scientific and ResearchPublications 6(12): 207–211.CHAIKLIENG S, HOMSOMBAT T. 2011. ErgonomicRisk Assessment by RULA among Informal SectorWorkers of Rom Suk Broom Weaving. SrinagarindMedical Journal 26(1): 35–40.CHOI YW, PARK M, LIM YH et al. 2019. Independenteffect of physical activity and resting heart rate onthe incidence of atrial fibrillation in the generalpopulation. Sci Rep 9: 11228. I, KARIMI MA. 2016. Musculoskeletalsymptoms among handicraft workers engaged in handsewing tasks. Journal of Occupational Health 58(6):644–652. YK, NOYA DS. 2013. Working PostureAnalysis and Design using RULA (Rapid Upper LimbAssessment) Method in Production Process at PT.Jurnal Ilmiah Teknik Industri 12(2): 111–125.DURLOV S et al. 2014. Prevalence of low backpain among handloom weavers in West Bengal,India. International Journal of Occupational andEnvironmental Health 20(4): 333–339.HOEGER WWK, HOEGER SA. 2015. Lifetime PhysicalFitness and Wellness, 13th edition. Stamford, CT:Cengage Learning. p. 130–142.ISLER M, KUCUK M, GUNER M. 2018. Ergonomicassessment of working postures in clothing sector withscientific observation methods. Int J Cloth Sci Technol30: 757–771.MALLAPIANG F, AZRIFULA, AMIR N, ADRIANSYAH,SUYUTI S, MUIS M. 2021. The relationship of postureworking with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in theweaver West Sulawesi Indonesia. Gaceta Sanitaria 35:S15–S18.

Philippine Journal of ScienceVol. 150 No. 5, October 2021Inovero et al.: Physiological Aspects ofCordillera WeavingPICAVET HSJ, PAS LW, van OOSTROM SH, van derPLOEG HP, VERSCHUREN WMM et al. 2016. TheRelation between Occupational Sitting and Mental,Cardiometabolic, and Musculoskeletal Health over aPeriod of 15 Years—The Doetinchem Cohort Study.PLOS ONE 11(1): e0146639.PROMSRI A. 2017. Assessment of working postureand work-related musculoskeletal disorders in DokKaew broom weaving workers. Journal of AssociatedMedical Sciences 50(1): 138.SARKAR K. 2016. A Study on Health Issues of Weavers(Handloom Weaving). International Journal ofTechnology Research and Management 3(11): 1–4.SURAHMA B, SUROSOL B, PRASTIKE F. 2020. WorkPosture Analysis of Welding Workers Using the RULAMethod. Journal La Medihealtico 1(1): 13–23.VINAY U, VINAY D. 2017. Work Posture Assessmentof Tailors by RULA and REBA Analysis. InternationalJournal of Science, Environment and Technology 6(4):2469–2474.VAN L, CHAIEAR N, SUMANANONT C, CHHENG K.2015. Prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms amonggarment workers in Kandal province, Cambodia.Journal of Occupational Health 58(1): 1–22.YATES BJ, BOLTON PS, MACEFIELD VG. 2015.Vestibulo-sympathetic Responses. ComprehensivePhysiology 4(2): 851–887.1067

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